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Tool: Observing with the at task technique

This technique provides data on individual students’ engagement levels. It is important for the teacher being observed to explain what she or he considers to be on-task behavior.

  • Create a seating map of the classroom using boxes to represent each student
  • Create a legend to represent various behaviors

For example:

A = At task
B = Stalling
C = Schoolwork other than requested
D = Out of seat
E = Talking to others

  • Systematically examine each student’s behavior for a few seconds and record his or behavior accordingly in the appropriate box
  • Repeat the observations of each student every three to four minutes and record appropriately


Observation Notes:

AT TASK Teacher: Liz P. Lesson: Journal writing Date: 2/2/04  Observer:  Laura Z.

Begin 9:20.  Students working at desk while teacher conferences one-one-one at her desk.

at task graphic


Analysis suggestions

  • Examine individual student’s level of engagement
  • Examine the general level of engagement across activities or time periods